Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

Aurelia wanted to go check on Cassius, but she had to make sure Giles was ok. He hadn't been there for study hall and he hadn't been in the library when she'd gone to see him. She walked up to his apartment door and peered in through the view port. Giles was crouched by a cabinet where he kept his vinyl record collection, looking at an album. Aurelia walked in and closed the door behind her.

The sound got Giles' attention and he looked up. "Buffy." Aurelia blinked and shook her head. Giles rarely called her Buffy anymore. He slipped the record into the cabinet.

"I'm sorry to barge in on you. I was just worried. You weren't there in study hall and what is my mother doing here?" Aurelia finally noticed her mother sitting on the floor.

"We had an opportunity for, um, you might say, a meeting. It took priority over study hall. I called in."

"Oh."

"We just wanted to get together and talk about things, honey." Joyce said.

"What things?"

"Just things. We've got more work to do here, honey. Why don't you give us a little more time?" Joyce reached into her purse, pulled out her car keys, and stood up.

"Um….. Take the car, and, um, Mr. Giles can drive me home."

"What? Excuse me, I meant what?"

"Keys. Take them."

"Ok. Thank you." Aurelia took the keys, still confused.

"Bye, honey. Drive careful."

Aurelia walked out to her mother's car and stared at it for a long moment. This was the first lifetime there'd been cars and she wasn't very good at driving. She sighed and got in. "This is easy. I can do this."

"Do you know that you have the parking brake on?" Willow asked, staring at the lever.

"Oh!" Aurelia released the parking brake and the engine suddenly began to rev much higher and they accelerated. "I'm sorry! This driving thing is…. Hard."

"It's ok. Eyes on the road! Eyes on the road!"

"Sorry!" Aurelia cried, straightening the car and looked at the road instead of Willow. "I'm so sorry!"

"It's ok. Cars weren't around the last time you were. It's understandable. Do you want me to drive?"

"Practice makes perfect?"

"Please don't kill us."

They made it to the Bronze in one piece and walked in to find an unusual number of older people there. Dingoes Ate My Baby was on the stage performing and the dance floor was very crowded with people of all ages. Even the older couples were dancing to the beat of the band. Aurelia and Willow looked around at the unusual mix of people in the crowd.

"What in the world…." Aurelia shook her head.

"Maybe there's a reunion in town or, or a Billy Joel tour or something." Willow suggested.

Ms. Barton walked past the two girls. "Ms. Barton?"

"Buffy? Whoa!" Ms. Barton cried.

"Are you ok, Ms. Barton?" Willow asked.

"Oh, I'm cool, Willow. Willow…. That's a tree. You're a tree! Yeah, uh, uh, are there any nachos in here, little tree?"

"Are you sure you don't need some fresh air, Ms. Barton?" Aurelia asked.

"Ok…." Laughing hysterically, the older woman walked into the crowd.

"Hey, this is not normal." Willow said. Aurelia shot her a look. "Uh, w-well, maybe that goes without saying."

Snyder spotted them from behind and came up between them. "Hey, gang!" He put his arms around the girls' shoulders. "This place is Fun City, huh?"

"Principal Snyder?" Aurelia's eyes widened.

"Call me Snyder. Just a last name, like…. Barbarino." He let go of the girls and pumped his arms and fists around wildly. "Ooh! I'm so stoked! Hey, did you see Ms. Barton? I think she's wasted. I'm gonna have to put that in her next performance review cause…. cause I'm the principal!" He laughed and turned around, heading back into the crowd.

"I don't like this. They could have heart attacks." Willow said.

"Uh, well…. maybe there's a doctor here." Aurelia suggested. Just then, an older, shirtless man jumped up onto the stage, pushed Devon away from the microphone stand, and yelled out into the crowd.

"I think that is my doctor." Willow said as the man jumped from the stage expecting to be caught by the crowd, but they didn't react fast enough and he slammed into the floor. "He-he's usually less…. topless."

Snyder stuck his head between the girls. "I got a commendation for being principal. From the Mayor! Shook my hand twice."

"That's nice." Aurelia said.

Snyder nodded and inhaled deeply. Two attractive women walked past them with drinks and Snyder made eyes at them. "Whoa! There are some foxy ladies here tonight!" He headed off after them.

"What's happening?" Willow asked.

"I don't know, but it's happening to a whole lot of grownups." Aurelia said.

"They're acting like a bunch…."

"Of us."

"I don't act like this."

Aurelia laughed. "I meant teenagers in general. I certainly don't act like this either."

The Dingoes were now between sets and Oz came down to join them. "What's going on with the grownups of this town?" He asked.

"Something's definitely changing them."

"A spell?" Willow suggested.

"They're teenagers. It's a sobering mirror to look into, huh?" Oz asked.

Snyder walked by and stopped. He looked at Oz and said, "You've got great hair." He walked around Oz, smiling and staring at his hair. Suddenly the music from the speakers stopped and a group of older men started singing "Louie Louie" up on the stage. They were off key, out of sync, and basically just plain terrible, but the crowd danced to them anyway.

"It just gets more upsetting." Willow said.

"No vampire has ever been that scary."

A man staggered through the crowd, drunk and munching on a chocolate bar. He bumped into another man and they faced each other and began to pick a fight. Someone yelled, "Fight!" and the crowd went crazier.

Snyder turned to face the group, smiling and nodding his head vigorously. "Fight!"

"We've gotta figure out what's going on." Aurelia said. "This has Hellmouth all over it." Willow and Oz followed her out. She stopped by a pinball machine where she saw a woman hold out a candy bar to her boyfriend. He took a huge bite while he kept playing the game.

Their pause gave Snyder a chance to catch up after noticing they were leaving. "Hey, where are we going?" The three teenagers rushed out and headed for Joyce's car, but Snyder was still chasing after them. "Wait up, you guys! Hey! You guys aren't trying to ditch me, are ya?"

"We should find Giles. He'll know what's going on, right?" Oz said.

Snyder ran up to the passenger side of the car and saw the places that were taken. He went around to the driver's side as Aurelia said, "Sure. Except for all we know, he's sweet sixteen again." She pulled on her seat belt.

"He's with your mom at his place." Willow reminded her.

Aurelia started the car just as Snyder opened the door behind her and got in. "I said, wait up!"

"Uh, Snyder…." Oz started.

"No time. He's coming with us." Aurelia said. She put the car in gear and slammed on the gas, burning some rubber in her hurry to get going.

"Whoa, Summers! You drive like a spaz!" Snyder yelped.

"It'll be ok when we get to Giles'." Willow said as they drove through the streets of Sunnydale.

"Of course, I mean, even if he's sixteen, he's still Giles, right?" Oz said. "He's probably a pretty together guy."

"Yeah, well…."

"What?"

"Giles at sixteen?" Aurelia said. "He's less Together Guy, more Bad-Magic-Hates-The-World-Ticking-Time-Bomb Guy."

"Well, then I guess your mom's in a lotta trouble."

"This is great! Let's do doughnuts in the football field, huh?" Snyder said.

They headed into the intersection just as another Jeep came in the other direction. The driver was too busy trying to get a chocolate bar unwrapped to realize that his light was red. "Oh, my God, look out!" Willow screamed. They all tensed up for the impact. The other Jeep hit them hard on the left rear door and back panel, making them spin around a quarter turn. The two Jeeps stopped side by side facing in opposite directions.

The driver of the other Jeep quickly got out. "Sorry! Gotta go!" He ran off laughing as Aurelia and the others got out of her mother's car.

Aurelia's first instinct was to chase the man, but she let him go and looked at the dent in the car. "Oh, God." She closed her door as Snyder swung his door closed as well, but it wouldn't shut properly anymore. "Are you all ok?"

"Is anybody else all creeped out and trembly?" Willow asked.

"Oh, Buffy…." Snyder said. "Your mom's gonna kill you."

Aurelia looked at the other side of the street and saw five guys hanging out by a tree. "Something's strange." She said.

"Something's not?" Oz asked.

"No grownups." Two women strutted past the men by the tree, munching on chocolate. The guys gave them catcalls and Snyder started to unwrap a bar of his own. "No one's protecting their houses. Everyone's just…. wandering."

A man ran up behind Snyder, grabbed his chocolate bar, and ran off with it. "Hey!" Snyder cried. "Hey, give it!" He went after the man.

"Defenseless." Willow agreed.

"So where are all the vampires?" Aurelia asked.

"Something's happening…. someplace that's else." Oz said.

"I'd say something big."

Snyder returned looking upset. "That guy took my candy!"

"The candy!" Aurelia cried. "I-it's gotta be the candy! It's cursed."

"A curse? Oh, I've got a curse."

"God, using candy for evil!" Willow said.

"My parents ate a ton." Oz said.

Aurelia looked at Snyder and jumped at him, pushing him up against the other Jeep. "Who's behind it?"

"I don't know." Snyder yelped. "It came through the school board. If you knew that crowd…."

"Where did it come from? Do you know where to get it?"

"Yeah."

"You guys get Xander and Cordelia." Aurelia said. "Go to the library and look it up."

"Candy curses?" Oz asked.

"Disturbing second childhood. Got it." Willow said. She took Oz's hand and they started on their way.

Aurelia turned back to Snyder. "Ratboy and I are going to the source." She shoved him toward the car.

Aurelia pulled into the loading dock behind the Milkbar factory. Two men had cases of chocolate open and were throwing them out into a crowd that was getting larger and rowdier by the minute. One couple, who were into some serious snogging, came to rest on Joyce's Jeep as Aurelia pulled it to a screeching halt. She and Snyder got out and marched over to the crowd. Just as she passed the couple on her mother's Jeep, Aurelia stopped in her tracks, realizing who they were.

"Mom? Giles?" She cried.

"Go away. We're busy." Giles said.

"Mom!" Aurelia pulled her mother away from her Watcher.

"Hey!" Joyce cried.

"Where did you get that coat? Never mind. Listen…."

Giles grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. "Back off!"

"Giles, think about this. Do you want to fight me, or would you please let me talk to my mother?" Giles realized he wouldn't have a chance against her and backed down, yanking his hand from her and up to the side of his face, where he grabbed a cigarette from behind his ear. Aurelia turned back to her mother as Giles put the cigarette into his mouth and reached into his pocket for his lighter. "Mom, look at me. Do you know who I am?"

"Of course. You're Buffy. Hey, look. They're, they're giving away candy. You want some candy?" Joyce asked.

"No, I don't! And you don't need any more, either."

"I'm fine. I can have more if I want."

"You are not fine. You need to go home."

"Screw you. I want candy!"

"Mother!"

"You wanna slay stuff, and I'm not allowed to do anything about it. Well, this is what I wanna do, so get off my back!"

"Mom, please, this is…."

"Oh, for God's sake." Giles reached over and pulled Joyce away. "Just let your mum have the sodding candy. C'mon, Joyce…."

Aurelia held her mother back and pointed at her black Jeep Cherokee. "Mom, look at your car. Look at that dent the size of New Brunswick. I did that."

"Oh, my God." Joyce cried. "What was I thinking when I bought the Geek Machine?" Giles started laughing hysterically.

Aurelia gave up on her mother and stepped over to Giles. "Listen to me. You need…."

"No, you listen to me." Giles said. "I'm your Watcher, so you do what I tell you. Now, sod off!"

Aurelia rolled her eyes and grabbed the cigarette from his mouth, throwing it down and stomping it out. "Take her home." She headed for the crowd.

Aurelia pushed her way through the crowd toward the loading dock. She stepped up on a crate and dispatched one of the men tossing candy to the crowd by punching him in the back of the knee. He crumpled and fell off of the end of the dock. Aurelia rolled onto the platform and flipped up to her feet. The other man threw away the box of candy bars he'd just grabbed and Aurelia ducked, thinking that it was being thrown at her. The man tried to punch her, but she punched him in the side and then backhanded him in the face, following up with two more punches to the gut and the face. She ducked his attempt at a punch and roundhouse kicked him in the back, knocking him into the factory wall. She grabbed onto his shirt, spun halfway around, and launched him off of the dock and into the air towards another wall. He hit it hard and slid to the pavement.

Aurelia turned and found Giles and her mother at the base of the dock stuffing chocolate bars into their pockets. "Mom!" She grabbed her by the arms and pulled her up.

"Oy! You leave her alone!" Giles yelled.

Aurelia kicked in the door to the factory as Giles hopped up onto the dock. He followed Aurelia and Joyce into the building. Snyder scrambled to join them.

Aurelia pulled her mother into the shipping area and let go of her. "Stay."

The place was piled to the ceiling with cases of Milkbars. Aurelia looked around to see what she could find. Across the room from the conveyor where the boxes were sealed, she saw a man on a phone, listening. He was there alone. Giles and Snyder came into the shipping area behind her.

"It smells so chocolatey." Snyder said.

"This is far out." Giles said.

The man started talking into the phone as Aurelia approached. "Yeah, I've been out there. Town's wide open. You guys can go anytime."

Aurelia immediately recognized the voice and crossed her arms as she closed the distance between them. "Ethan Rayne."

He turned to face her and his eyes went wide with surprise. Upon hearing the name, Giles approached him with Joyce close behind. Together, the three of them made an imposing sight. "Might wanna hurry." Ethan said to the phone before hanging up.

"Ethan." Giles said.

"Ripper." Ethan wasted no time breaking into a fast run. Aurelia and Giles gave chase. Ethan ran under the inclined end of the conveyor and pulled a rack behind him to block their way, but the two of them just jumped over the low end of it instead and continued the chase. Ethan ran through the maze of cases of candy bars. Aurelia and Giles tried to keep up, making several twists and turns. Finally Aurelia came around a corner to discover that she'd lost him.

Behind her Giles stopped running. He was breathing heavily to catch his breath. "Where…. Bloody Hell!"

"That's what smoking will do to you." Aurelia said. "Now be quiet."

"Well…. Where'd the bastard go?"

"Shh!" She looked around and listened carefully, walking around a corner and stopped.

"What?"

Aurelia pretended to go on, but then suddenly did a half-spinning hook kick into a crate. She yanked away a chunk of wood, reached in, and pulled Ethan's head out. "Look. A box full of farm-fresh chicken." Ethan gave her a nervous smile, but it quickly faded.

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